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Online dating has grown rapidly in the last few years and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s estimated that over half of couples will meet online by the year 2031, while 58% of people say they would use online dating if they became single in the future.

The problem is we can’t be 100% confident in the identities of people we meet online. Daters are expected to trust that the people they meet are who they claim to be, yet it’s easy for someone to use a false identity or create a fake profile online. This makes online dating a hot target for fraudsters – in the UK alone, £41 million was lost to dating scams last year, with the average victim losing £11,500.

But it’s not just the threats of dating scams we need to be aware of.

A recent investigation revealed children as young as eight were able to sign up to dating websites and apps, putting their personal safety at great risk. The question we need to ask is do dating platforms do enough to protect users, and would online age verification help safeguard young people?

The results are in

Our research revealed that 65 percent of UK adults think people should be required to verify their age in order to use a dating website or app. This is unsurprising given the ease at which someone can give a false date of birth online. The lack of age verification puts vulnerable children at risk of seeing explicit content, or from being groomed by adults; both of which can have devastating consequences.

Genuine daters can also be tricked by someone lying about their age. Fifteen percent of 18-24 year olds who used a dating website or app said they had discovered someone who had given a false age, resulting in a lack of trust and transparency online.

Notably, 61% of adults think people should have to verify their identity on dating websites and apps to prevent people from creating fake accounts, and 46% of adults believe that dating websites and apps don’t do enough to verify the age of their users.

Effective age verification online isn’t years away – it’s here right now.

The technology exists to let individuals prove their age online in a private, simple and secure way. And they won’t need to show paper ID documents or disclose sensitive personal details to do so.

Dating websites can be confident that everyone on their platform meets the age requirement – helping to safeguard young people and giving daters peace of mind about the age of people they meet online.

Creating safer communities of daters

We’re currently working with Truly Madly, a leading dating app in India, and Igbo Introductions, a new UK-based matchmaking platform for people of Igbo (from South-East Nigeria) origin, to help verify the identity of individuals and create a more trusted community of daters.

Yubo, a social networking site, is using our age estimation technology Yoti Age Scan to flag any accounts where someone appears to have misstated their age. Owners of flagged accounts can then use the Yoti app to share their verified date of birth. The same technology could be applied to dating websites and apps.

We believe verified digital identities can help make online dating safer and protect underage children from accessing explicit content online. Given the growing concerns around online safety, it could be a question of when, not if, responsible platforms will implement age verification technology.